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'tis the season
ready. set. go!!!
by heather m. millen

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Now, go! GO! GO! GO!

I know that lately it seems as if the holiday season is creeping up earlier and earlier. And while I have no love for those who deck their halls before the last Friday in November, the day after Thanksgiving is the tried and true day when it can all begin. Oh, the joy and wonder, the music and the magic, the heartburn and insomnia!

As a child, Christmas was nothing but joyous. As an adult, it is a lot more stressful. And I feel as if this dampens the season. How can we tarnish such a wonderful time of the year?

If it's the shopping that's getting you down, I've got the inside scoop. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, the following is "hot" this season: tweed clothes, Cabbage Patch Kids, My Little Pony, fur coats, GI Joe, chandalier earring, Strawberry Shortcake, Transformers, and boots with buckles. Basically, just go clear everything out of your closet from circa-1988 and regift. Done!

I feel your pain. I work in retail marketing. As you read this, I am knee-deep in the day that we jovially refer to as "Black Friday" in the business. My job means that I will be in a mall every day between here and Christmas. Hoarded by holiday shoppers, mothers tackling for the last "Limbo Elmo" and the children, oh the screaming children, all waiting to have their go at Santa. To many of you, and at least all of the men in the room, I've just described your candy striped vision of hell. Welcome to my December!

But you know what? I still love Christmas and I'm excited that it is here. In college, my roomate and I would sit down right about now and write our Holiday To-Do List. Now, this wasn't a list of what to buy our loved ones or which festive foods to pick up at the supermarket. Well, it wasn't JUST that anyway. We would write up a list of festively fantastic activities to do throughout the month of December so as to thoroughly appreciate the entire Christmas season.

We would inevitably begin by changing our answering machine to something joyous... if you consider sing-screaming a holly jolly tune into your ear in a pitch only dogs can hear "joyous". But the feeling was there and Christmas was here and we were all kinds of excited!

And I must say that I miss that list. I miss Christmas being anything other than all the warm-feely good stuff. I feel like that list gave me a sense of celebration in a time that often gets down-trodden by the hecticity and commerciality that can come along with what is meant to be one of the most merry times of year. I feel that Christmas really is about a lot more than the presents. So I'm writing a new list. And I hope you join me in crossing off each delighting deed.

Holiday To Do List
1) DECORATE!!! Make sure every nook and cranny of the house is tinseled, glittered and glowing!
2) Go ice skating, even if you're in LA. Just go early before the beating sun melts the plastic ice pond downtown.
3) Write your list for Santa. Send to the North Pole.
4) Go see The Nutcracker Ballet. Again.
5) Download ONE HUNDRED Christmas Songs off KaZaa.
6) Bake cookies. The sugar kind that can be decorated to resemble friends or even phallic images, if you so desire.
7) Have a movie night on the couch, fully equipped with hot cider and a boatload of popcorn. Watch one or more of the following movies:
-A Christmas Story
-Miracle on 34th Street
-Home Alone
-The Grinch (with Jim Carrey)
8) Buy mistletoe. Kiss everyone!
9) Donate a toy to a child in need.
10) Buy a copy of TV Guide and highlight all of the Christmas specials. Highlight, underline AND circle "A Chipmunk Christmas." Watch.
11) Get picture taken with the mall Santa.
12) CAROL! Sing to someone... anyone... everyone that will listen!
13) Find a fruit cake that doesn't suck. Eat.
14) Resist temptation and pass up the free gift wrapping. Wrap all gifts yourself and put a special touch on each package.
15) Invite friends over for a night of celebration. Drink wine and eat cheese. Lots of wine, lots of cheese.
16) Count down the days til Santa comes.
17) Tell someone you love them. Hug a lot.
18) Suck it up, battle the G-Rated crowd and go see at least one newly released festive film in the theatre. May I suggest "Elf" this season.
19) Don a Santa Hat. Use the word "Don" as much as possible.
20) Spike the eggnog.
21) Buy socks or boxers in a holiday print.
22) Personalize your Christmas Cards. Send them out early.
23) Read "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg.
24) Believe.

... and 25) Have a happy holiday! Every minute of it.


Heather has a penchant for drama, both personally and professionally. She secretly wishes people spoke in song and wholeheartedly believes that everyone deserves a standing ovation now and again. She finds it appalling that people reserve champagne only for special occasions, when champagne is clearly best on a Tuesday, while riding the subway, accompanying a slice of kick-ass pizza.

more about heather m. millen


robert melos
11.28.03 @ 12:57a

I love that you listed chandalier earrings after G.I. Joe. Somehow I'm picturing G.I. Don't Ask Joe.

I think the season seemed rushed this year inparticular because it was rushed by many people. I've gotten the feeling many people aren't happy with the events of this year, and are in a hurry to just get it all over with.

I'm also very up for Mistletoe and donning, but hoping you mean fake fur is "in" and not the real fur.

sandra thompson
11.28.03 @ 10:06a

Grump grump snork snork bah humbug! Sigh

russ carr
11.28.03 @ 11:51a

I'm not gonna lie to you. I left 37 broken, mangled bodies cursing my name through bruised and swollen lips from the now blood-stained tile floor of the Kirkwood Wal-Mart. I do 90 percent of my shopping through mail order, but for the 10 percent which forces me to wade through the mall or other crowded stores, I am a franchise running back with brass knuckles and steel-toed boots. Out of my way, bitch; I ain't got time to browse.

Oh, but today was also our first snow flurries this winter. How pretty! Tres joyeux!

heather millen
11.28.03 @ 11:59a

This just in from the Westfield Shoppingtown MainPlace: This place is a madhouse!! People were lined up around the building outside of Robinsons-May at 5:30 AM. Kay-Bee stores is a deathtrap. Just minutes ago, I told my coworker that I was walking out in the mall to get a drink. Her response, "If you make it back alive, bring me a martini."

Ahh, Holidays! Woo hoo!

matt morin
11.28.03 @ 12:19p

The Grinch with Jim Carrey? You've been drinking too much holiday cheer! Everyone knows the only real Grinch movie is the animated one!

Christmas to me has always been:

• The Rankin/Bass stop motion tv specials.
• Picking out and decorating a Douglass Fir.
• The dusty smell of Dad up in the attic pulling down box after box of Mom's ornaments.
• Colored X-mas lights (not those lame-ass icicle lights!) shining through my bedroom window at night.
• The sound of wrapping paper being cut.
• Mom answering the phone "Merry Christmas!" no matter who was calling.

tracey kelley
11.28.03 @ 1:02p

I watched the Christmas Story last night -

- it is the first of probably 10 viewings for the season.

"Randy lay there like a slug. It was his only defense."

"Notta fingah!"

"He looks like a deranged Easter bunny." "Oh he does not." "Yes he does."

I love falling asleep under the Christmas tree while the lights are blinking.

heather millen
11.28.03 @ 2:31p

Unfortunately, there will be no Christmas tree this year. No room at my place and the parents aren't doing it. Little bummed about that.

But I did have my first "A Christmas Story" viewing yesterday too. It's how you know the season has begun! As for Carrey's Grinch, I know I shouldn't love it, but I do. I really feel he captures the "cynicism" of the Grinch.


matt morin
11.29.03 @ 5:57p

You've got to get a tree. Even if it's a little tiny one.

I just got my tree this morning and spent the afternoon trimming it. My apartment smells so good right now. It's all very Christmas-y.

sarah ficke
12.1.03 @ 8:53a

I never liked "A Christmas Story", and I don't care if Santa strikes me dead for saying that. For me, Christmas is about watching
It's a Wonderful Life" and possibly "White Christmas",

The rest of the list looks good, though. Especially the spiked eggnog and the caroling (best done in that order).

tracey kelley
12.1.03 @ 10:39a

Oh, It's a Wonderful Life is an absolute in our house, as is the animated Grinch.

I will make no comment on your dislike of A Christmas Story, Sarah.

We're debating on the tree this year, though, since I'll be gone half the time and we'll have no time to put it up before I leave. I have a strict rule: No Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, and they must come down right after NY Day. But we'll probably do the outside lights at the very least.


heather millen
12.1.03 @ 12:21p

Animated Grinch is on the Cartoon Network every day this week at 8pm. Enjoy! I've already got my Carrey fix.

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